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SAN CLEMENTE : Six-Screen Theater OKd Over Protests

Over protests from neighbors, the Planning Commission this week approved plans for a six-screen movie theater that could open as early as May.

The 43,000-square-foot project would include a restaurant and shops and would be the city’s first multiscreen theater. The six auditoriums would provide seating for 1,260 moviegoers.

City officials spoke in support of the project.

“It’s obvious that our San Clemente families have no other choice but to drive up the I-5 freeway to see a movie,” said David Lund, economic development director. “And when they do that, they obviously dine out and shop elsewhere. San Clemente is the net loser all the way around.”

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But residents of Sea Pointe Estates, a gated community that overlooks the proposed 2.4-acre site on Camino de los Mares, said the complex will bring unwanted activity to their neighborhood.

“Even a wall of trees will not alleviate the noise, traffic, loitering and trash that come with a theater,” resident Barbara Ann Vignone said in a letter to the Planning Commission. She was referring to the city’s promise to plant 100 trees as a buffer to reduce the light and noise reaching nearby homes.

Commission members pointed out, though, that the theater site has been commercially zoned for years and that an even larger cinema complex had been proposed earlier.

The site “was zoned commercial before any homes were bought at Sea Pointe Estates,” Commissioner John Tengdin said.

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The commission’s action is considered final unless the decision is appealed to the City Council or the council decides to review it.


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